For vacationers from all over the world, Greece is a summertime paradise. It has a fairy-tale vibe with its bright blue skies, sandy white beaches, clean waterways, and lush foliage along the countryside.
But if you want to see snow-capped mountains, sugar-dusted treetops, smoke drifting from village chimneys, the pleasant smell of Christmas treats, and distinctive Christmas customs specific to each region of the Greek Islands, you should visit Greece during the winter months. Despite not being a well-known holiday destination, Greece has much to offer over the holidays. Here are some reasons to spend Christmas in Greece.
- Christmas Traditions In Greece: A Unique Affair
For Greeks, traditions and customs are an integral aspect of daily life. For example, Greeks believe that goblins, or “kallikantzaroi,” arrive during the twelve days of Christmas celebrations until the day they mark Epiphany, which is often January 6th. It is thought that they enter the home through chimneys. Thus, the Greeks burn the Yule log throughout the twelve days of Christmas.
After the local priest sprinkles the blessed waters on the Epiphany, the kallikantzaroi’s stay is officially over until the next year. Young men swim into the chilly waves of Greece to collect the cross that the priest had thrown into the ocean to celebrate Epiphany with the same warmth as Christmas. It is said that whoever finds it will have luck for the rest of the year.
- The Christmas Displays: Lightens Up The Streets
Greek Christmas is a traditional festival. Hence there are few decorations in the homes that are in a western manner. Greeks traditionally hang a cross covered in a sprig of basil leaves from their Christmas trees instead of the glistening, brilliant ornaments and lights.
To keep the basil fresh, a shallow basin is attached to it. A family member sprinkles water from that bowl throughout the house once every day to ward off evil spirits. In addition, Greeks decorate their homes’ front doors with pomegranates and kremmeda. Throwing the dried fruit on the ground and stomping until it breaks before entering the home symbolizes prosperity and good luck.
- Christmas In Athens: A Western Influence
Huge Christmas trees, displays, and festivities like outdoor ice skating, shopping, music festivals, and Christmas ships decorated in blue and white lights can be found on the sidewalks of Athens’ Syntagma Square and Thessaloniki’s Aristotelous Square. Here, one may unwind while taking in street acts, delectable food stands, or dancing. Young children can frequently be seen playing the drums and the triangle and carrying boats decorated with nuts while singing kalanda or Christmas carols in Greece’s streets. In addition, you can see fireworks displays on New Year’s Eve.
- Christmas Delicacies: Savour The Delicious Treats
Like other countries, Greece’s Christmas celebrations center on feasting with close friends and family. Roast lamb or pork is typically served with a spinach and cheese pie with salads or vegetables on the side as part of the Greek Christmas meal. In addition, Greeks have always served turkey at Christmastime. During Christmas and the New Year, spiced cookies like melomakarona and fresh butter cookies called kourabiedes are especially popular.
Aside from this, christopsomos (sweet bread), served on Christmas Day and laced with a cross sign on top, is used to embellish a typical Christmas table. Whoever discovers the penny within the Vasilopita, also known as St. Basil’s pie, first on New Year’s Day is said to have good luck for the rest of the year.
- Climate In Greece During Christmas: Enjoy In The Serenity
Within sections of the islands, the weather in Greece on Christmas varies. In general, the weather on the mainland is chilly, with gloomy skies, rain, and snow in the mountains. 13oC is the average temperature. The climate on the island varies. However, it is generally warmer than on the mainland. The bigger islands, like Crete, are windy but also quite sunny. Visiting multiple islands is difficult during these times, but you can go to Crete. The local temperature ranges from 15 to 17 degrees Celsius, and the Cretans have their own Christmas customs. For example, the Cretans participate in the Santa Run, where participants dress like Santa Claus and run.